Welcome to Starting Seven, The Pillar’s daily newsletter.
I’m Luke Coppen and I aim to guide you each weekday morning to the most interesting Catholic news and comment.
📜 Today’s readings: Gn 2:4b-9, 15-17 ▪ Ps 104:1-2a, 27-28, 29bc-30 ▪ Mk 7:14-23.
📅 Today’s observance: International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking (Italian papal video message).
🗞 Starting seven
1: At today’s general audience, Pope Francis thanked God for allowing him to realize the “two dreams” of visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, and appealed for help for victims of the Turkey–Syria earthquake (full text, photo, full video).
7: And Linda Reeves describes two college basketball teammates’ journey into religious life.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
🧐 Look closer
The other assembly While much attention is being devoted to the European synodal continental assembly in Prague, there is another continental gathering taking place on the other side of the world.
Oceania’s continental synodal assembly began in Suva, the capital of Fiji, on Feb. 5. The opening address was given by Vatican Cardinal Michael Czerny (later pictured in a bold open-necked shirt) and a video message delivered by Synod supremo Cardinal Mario Grech.
‘Save the ocean’ The gathering is being held under the auspices of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO), which brings together Church leaders from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and many Pacific islands.
The continental assembly coincides with a meeting of the bishops’ conferences of Australia (ACBC), New Zealand (NZCBC), Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBCPNGSI), and the Pacific (CEPAC), which takes place every four years.
The six-day gathering in Suva is informed by Fijian culture, with a traditional welcome ceremony, Mass “steeped in Fijian spirituality,” and regular “veitalanoa,” or chats. On Feb. 8, the assembly’s fourth day, delegates met with Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.
Discussions have a strong environmental focus, with “Save the ocean to save Mother Earth” chosen as the meeting’s theme.
What’s next Like the Prague assembly, the Suva meeting is expected to result in a final document that will be submitted to the Vatican ahead of the synod on synodality, a gathering of the world’s bishops in Rome in October.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇺🇸 U.S. President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address that “if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it.”
🇫🇷 French bishops’ conference president Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort has said that priestly ordination is not “the solution” to the challenge of expanding women’s roles in the Church (German interview).
🇬🇧 British Olympic champion Mo Farah has been named patron of the Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation, and Abuse at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham.
🇹🇿 Dozens of former Muslims have been baptized in the Orthodox Church in Tanzania.
📅 Coming soon
Feb. 13 Final report of Portugal’s independent abuse commission due to be released; Apostolic visitation of the French Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon starts; Continental phase regional assembly for the Central America-Mexico region begins in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Feb. 20 Continental phase regional assembly for the Caribbean region begins in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Feb. 22 Ash Wednesday, Lent begins.
Feb. 25 Nigeria’s general election.
Feb. 26 Start of Roman Curia’s Lenten spiritual exercises.
Have a happy feast of St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita.
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